13 Queer Creatives on the Works of Art That Changed Their Lives

The acclaimed fiction writer, poet and critic is best known for the novels What Belongs to You and Cleanness. His latest novel, Small Rain, is out in September.

Bbymutha on the NYC underground scene

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Courtesy of BbyMutha

“Cakes da killa, Joey LaBeija, LSDXOXO are the people who let me know that there were more people out there like me. I’m from a small town and it’s not a lot of that going on. I always felt out of place. I always felt like I had to box myself into sexuality because there wasn’t a lot of discourse around it or an explanation about it. Where I’m from, it’s ‘You’re either gay or straight.’

Going to New York for the first time and meeting those people, DonChristian, all of them, definitely helped me understand my sexuality. As a teenager and as a child, my parents definitely didn’t encourage it and I didn’t have any literature or no gay aunties or nothing, you know what I’m saying? And if they were, they were hiding it and being ashamed of it. In 2016/2017 when they were still throwing GHE20G0TH1K parties, I was hanging with Contessa Stuto and Cakes da killa. I felt accepted.

Actually, my next album is actually going to be exploring all of those things. The album is going to be called Puberty. I personally have come to a point where I feel like I need to sit down and spend time with myself and think about my journey with my gender and my sexuality and all the things that have happened to me, to shape me into this person that I am.”

Bbymutha, the self-proclaimed “devil’s daughter,” is a Chattanooga, Tennessee-born rapper whose latest album, Sleep Paralysis, was released in April.

Contrapoints on Tom Rubnitz’s Surrealist Videos

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Courtesy of Natalie Wynn

“I remember the first thing in drag I ever saw was in the 2000s. There were these bizarre videos from the ’80s that got passed around on the internet at that time. A few of them that come to mind are by the artist, Tom Rubnitz, who did these strange, surreal glitter-drag VHS performances. I think people know them as Pickle Surprise or Strawberry Shortcut.

It has an edgy ’80s queer sensibility that probably wouldn’t hold up to 2020’s moral scrutiny. At the time I saw these videos, I knew they were supposed to be scary when people posted them on the internet. I thought it was weird and freaky, but also, this sense of deviation from heterosexual correctness was [what] I was very interested in. I felt attracted to it. I went through a whole stage in my videos in 2017, 2018, 2019 where I was doing this glitter drag thing. I feel like I got it from that. I was trying to recreate this surreal, what-is-going-on type of identity fuckery feeling that I associate with those videos.”

Natalie Wynn is a Peabody Award-winning video essayist and the creator of Contrapoints, a YouTube channel covering queer identity, politics, and gender, among a wide variety of cultural topics.

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